A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about trees

Khao Yai National Park

Elephants and other animals

sunny 35 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I had 2 things on my must do list for the few days I had in Bangkok; see the iconic buddhist temples and to go for a ride on an elephant. I had done the temples, now it was time to travel 3 hours north of Bangkok out into the countryside to see the elephants at the Khao Yai National Park.

First stop about an hour into our trip was the local market at Nakhorn Nayok. I had concerns that this was going to be a hard sell gem store and souvenir hard sell tourists are warned about but I needn't have worried. It wasn't that sort of market, instead it was filled with fresh local produce (much of which was still moving!) and they were buying our lunch.

Jack Fruit being prepared at Nakhorn Na Yok Market

Jack Fruit being prepared at Nakhorn Na Yok Market


Fresh Shellfish on sale at Nakhon Na Yok Market

Fresh Shellfish on sale at Nakhon Na Yok Market


As on other stalls the fish in these buckets moved and were very much still alive!

As on other stalls the fish in these buckets moved and were very much still alive!


Yes I think that is Frogs on sale at the front!

Yes I think that is Frogs on sale at the front!


Hot spices anyone?

Hot spices anyone?

After an educational and entertaining wander around the market we went to a local farm for a ride in an ox cart. It was a sedantry bone shaking ride and we had to wear thai farmer straw hats similar to those I had seen in the Siam Museum in Bangkok the previous day.

Me on the back of the Ox Cart - in my Thai Farmer's Straw Hat!

Me on the back of the Ox Cart - in my Thai Farmer's Straw Hat!


View riding an Ox Cart

View riding an Ox Cart

We than continued on our way towards Khao Yai National Park passing through small villages on the way. Going through one village we had to wait while a local farmer unloaded his Rice Harvester into an adjacent paddy field while in another we stopped and watched a couple of races at the sports day of the local school.

A local farmer unloading a rice harvester into his paddy fields

A local farmer unloading a rice harvester into his paddy fields

Water Buffalo grazing beside the road

Water Buffalo grazing beside the road


Sports Day at a local Thai Village School

Sports Day at a local Thai Village School


The race for the finishing line!

The race for the finishing line!

We then reached the entrance to the Khao Yai National Park and made our way to the famous waterfall at Haew Narok. It was not as spectacular as it can be when full of water but impressive and an idyllic spot none the less.

Fence to stop the Elephants getting through on the way to the Harew Narok Waterfall

Fence to stop the Elephants getting through on the way to the Harew Narok Waterfall


The steps down to the Waterfall

The steps down to the Waterfall


Haew Narok Waterfall

Haew Narok Waterfall


Me by the Haew Narok Waterfall

Me by the Haew Narok Waterfall


Chamelon on a tree on the way back from the Waterfall

Chamelon on a tree on the way back from the Waterfall

We then moved deeper into the National Park heading towards a viewpoint over the Forest and soon began to encounter gibbon monkeys along the road.

Our first sight of a Gibbon at the side of the road

Our first sight of a Gibbon at the side of the road


The Gibbon seemed unsure if he was happy to see us!

The Gibbon seemed unsure if he was happy to see us!


We then encountered a whole troop of Gibbons including some young

We then encountered a whole troop of Gibbons including some young


A view of the Forest at the Khao Yai National Park

A view of the Forest at the Khao Yai National Park


At the viewpoint a few Gibbons took a particular interest in a pair of mopeds

At the viewpoint a few Gibbons took a particular interest in a pair of mopeds

However the highlight and main purpose of the day was to ride an elephant and after a stop for lunch (much of which had been bought earlier in the day by our guide while we were at Nakhorn Nayok Market) we were introduced to a large elephant called Cherry. I was sharing her with a mother and daughter from upstate New York and I initially sat on Cherry's neck, it was a long way down! We then spent three quarters of an hour lumbering through some woods, ducking branches and walking down streams; great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The mahout gets out of the way as we set off through the forest on Cherry the Elephant

The mahout gets out of the way as we set off through the forest on Cherry the Elephant


Yep, they initially put me in the driving seat on the back of the elephants head

Yep, they initially put me in the driving seat on the back of the elephants head


The elephant sprayed us with a bit of water as we walked through a small stream

The elephant sprayed us with a bit of water as we walked through a small stream


Me feeling cool on the back of Cherry the Elephant

Me feeling cool on the back of Cherry the Elephant


Our final view of our two elephants before we began our long drive back to Bangkok

Our final view of our two elephants before we began our long drive back to Bangkok

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged waterfalls trees animals food markets tour videos solo Comments (0)

Margaret River

My return to an old playground

overcast 24 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

The Margaret River area is the south west toe of Western Australia about 3 hours drive from Perth. I had been there before on my previous visit to my cousins in Perth back in 2002 but definately wanted to go back there again as there was so much to see.

We started by visiting the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse situated at the most south western point in Australia which is where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. After the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and Cape Horn in South America this is one of the most treacherous capes in the world. The lighthouse was built in 1895-96 and is 132 feet (40 metres) high with walls 7 feet (2 metres) thick at its base - and 176 steps we had to climb to reach the top!

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse


The Lighthouse Lens at Cape Leeuwin

The Lighthouse Lens at Cape Leeuwin


The view of the rest of Australia from Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

The view of the rest of Australia from Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse


Me at the meeting point of the Indian and Southern Oceans

Me at the meeting point of the Indian and Southern Oceans

Next stop moving north was Lake Cave, the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge which is the backbone of the Margaret River Area is peppered with over 100 of them most of which have the most amazing natural cave formations. Lake Cave is considered the prettiest of them with an impressive colapsed cavern entrance known as a doline and its stalactites within reflecting in the stream that flows very slowly through it. From the karri trees growing in the entrance it is estimated the doline colapsed about 700 years ago and inside Lake Cave there is a very unusual cave formation known as as suspended table formed by the flowstone beneath columns being eroded away.

The impressive entrance down into Lake Cave

The impressive entrance down into Lake Cave

Stalactites reflecting in the water inside Lake Cave

Stalactites reflecting in the water inside Lake Cave


The suspended table inside Lake Cave

The suspended table inside Lake Cave


The deepest part of Lake Cave

The deepest part of Lake Cave


Day light again! Re-emerging from Lake Cave into its doline

Day light again! Re-emerging from Lake Cave into its doline

The Boranup Forest above the caves contains an amazing forest of karri and marri trees, driving along the Caves Road that runs along the spine of the area you are aware the trees are tall with similar sized trunks but all of a sudden the trees seem to be 3-5 times taller than they were previously - very belittling! Karri Trees are a very straight trunked hardwood tree with all its branches high up that can grow upto 200 feet (60 metres) high. The most famous karri is the 200 feet high Gloucester Tree near Pemberton about an hour's drive away to the east which is used as a fire lookout tree and can be climbed but I was quite happy keeping my feet on the ground!

The view from the Boranup Lookout across the Karri Tree Forest to the Indian Ocean

The view from the Boranup Lookout across the Karri Tree Forest to the Indian Ocean


Karri Trees line the track as we drive through the Baranup Forest

Karri Trees line the track as we drive through the Baranup Forest


To give an idea of scale, our car stopped on the track amongst the Karri Trees in the Boranup Forest

To give an idea of scale, our car stopped on the track amongst the Karri Trees in the Boranup Forest

Where the Margaret River enters the Indian Ocean is also world famous for its consistent surf and I remember a fun day on the beach there during my previous visit. Since then the shape of the coastline seems to have changed a lot and still shows the scars of a bushfire that ravaged the area a couple of years ago but as we stopped for old times sake we could still make out the surfers practising in the waves on Surfers Point for the annual Pro Surf Competition being held there starting at the weekend.

Surfers practice at Surfers Point, Margaret River

Surfers practice at Surfers Point, Margaret River


Lifeguard Notice at Margaret River Beach

Lifeguard Notice at Margaret River Beach


Surfers encampment at Margaret River in readiness for the Pro-Am Competition the following weekend

Surfers encampment at Margaret River in readiness for the Pro-Am Competition the following weekend


Scrubland at  Surfers Point recovering from the Bushfire that ravaged the area in 2011

Scrubland at Surfers Point recovering from the Bushfire that ravaged the area in 2011

However what Margaret River is famous for more than anything else is for being Western Australia's premier wine region so what else were we to finish our trip to the area but with a tour of a local winery? The winery we chose to visit was the Leeuwin Estate, one of the original wineries in the area when it was identified as an ideal place to grow grapes back in 1972 and which often hosts open concerts for famous entertainers such the London Philamornic and Sting. Our tour was given by a very enthusiastic guide and one of the senior growers and was very interesting and fun - honest I learnt a lot! We then finished off by sampling some of the different vintages before starting our long trek back to Perth.

The entrance to the Leeuwin Estate Winery

The entrance to the Leeuwin Estate Winery


The stage all set for the next open air concert at the Leeuwin Estate

The stage all set for the next open air concert at the Leeuwin Estate


Where the grapes arrive from the fields

Where the grapes arrive from the fields


Wine fermenting in the vats at the Leeuwin Estate

Wine fermenting in the vats at the Leeuwin Estate


Wine aging in oak barrels in the cellars of the Leeuwin Estate

Wine aging in oak barrels in the cellars of the Leeuwin Estate


Of course no tour of a winery would be complete without some wine tasting!

Of course no tour of a winery would be complete without some wine tasting!

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches trees lighthouses tunnels caves wine perth videos Comments (0)

Auckland "City of Sails"

Volcanoes, yachts, NZ bush and black sand beaches

overcast 22 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Auckland is built on a narrow istmus where you can walk from the east to west coast in about 4 hours. It is also pitted with about 50 volcanic cones and craters and half the city seems to spend their free time jogging up and down them trying to keep fit. The most famous of these are Mount Eden (Auckland's highest volcanic cone) and One Tree Hill of U2 Joshua Tree fame and whose tree was chopped down by a maori activist in 2000.

One Tree Hill - minus the famous tree on its summit chopped down in 2000

One Tree Hill - minus the famous tree on its summit chopped down in 2000

One Tree Hill from Mount Eden

One Tree Hill from Mount Eden


Auckland including the Harbour Bridge and Skytower from Mount Eden

Auckland including the Harbour Bridge and Skytower from Mount Eden


The summit of Mount Eden at sunset

The summit of Mount Eden at sunset

In my opinion however the cone with the best view of Auckland is Mount Victoria on the North Shore of the harbour above the naval base at Devonport. On top of it is Fort Victoria and its disappearing gun built in 1899 in response to the threat of Russian expansionism in the Pacific. Offshore and dominating the view out to sea is Rangitoto, the largest and youngest of Auckland's volcanoes which last erupted about 600 years ago.

The disappearing gun at Fort Victoria overlooking Auckland Harbour

The disappearing gun at Fort Victoria overlooking Auckland Harbour


The spectacular view of Auckland Harbour from Mount Victoria

The spectacular view of Auckland Harbour from Mount Victoria

The Fossil Forest exposed on Takupuna Beach in front of Rangitoto, Auckland's largest and youngest volcano

The Fossil Forest exposed on Takupuna Beach in front of Rangitoto, Auckland's largest and youngest volcano

Just like Freemantle when Australia won the America's Cup in 1984, Auckland's harbour side attracted a lot of investment and got a major revamp after New Zealand won the Cup in 1995 and 2000. Several multi-millionaires have their luxury yachts in the Viaduct Harbour (one 5 star hotel even offers them berths!) and the New Zealand and Italian America's Cup Teams are still based here.

New Zealand's 1995 America's Cup winning yacht NZL32 "Black Magic" in the NZ Maritime Museum

New Zealand's 1995 America's Cup winning yacht NZL32 "Black Magic" in the NZ Maritime Museum


The luxury yacht Ulysses moored in Auckland's Viaduct Basin

The luxury yacht Ulysses moored in Auckland's Viaduct Basin


The Headquarters of the New Zealand America's Cup Team

The Headquarters of the New Zealand America's Cup Team


The Italian America's Cup Team are also based in Auckland

The Italian America's Cup Team are also based in Auckland

Thousands of yachts are moored in the Marina and demand for berths is so high that one company even offers multi-storey berths promising to have a customer's boat in the water within an hour of receiving a phone call. Across the mouth of the Viaduct Basin is the $3.7 million Wynyard Footbridge which opens to let boats through and is popular with tourists and cyclists.

The Skytower viewed behind a forest of yacht masts in Westhaven Marina

The Skytower viewed behind a forest of yacht masts in Westhaven Marina


Whatever next? A Multi Storey Boat Park down on the waterside in Auckland

Whatever next? A Multi Storey Boat Park down on the waterside in Auckland


The Wynyard Footbridge across the Viaduct Harbour

The Wynyard Footbridge across the Viaduct Harbour

The Wynyard Footbridge is raised to let a private yacht out to sea

The Wynyard Footbridge is raised to let a private yacht out to sea

Also by the Viaduct Harbour is New Zealand's Maritime Museum which in addition to galleries on the arrival of the Polynesians, early pioneers, immigrants and the America's Cup also has twice daily sailings around the harbour in the Ted Ashby, a modern reconstruction of ketch-rigged deck scow typical of those used to transport cargo around New Zealand's coasts 1870-1920.

Hoisting the Sail aboard the Ted Ashby in Waitemata Harbour off Auckland

Hoisting the Sail aboard the Ted Ashby in Waitemata Harbour off Auckland


View of Auckland from the Waitemata Harbour

View of Auckland from the Waitemata Harbour

While sailing on the Ted Ashby we sailed under the Auckland Harbour Bridge completed in 1959. Originally it only had 4 lanes which was very quickly found to be inadequate and by 1969 a Japanese construction company had been engaged to add a further 4 lanes which ever since have been affectionately known as the Nippon Clip-ons. It is also possible to do a bungy jump from a bungy pod close to the southern pier of the bridge; we narrowly missed catching someone jumping as we passed underneath!

Me approaching Auckland Harbour Bridge aboard the Ted Ashby

Me approaching Auckland Harbour Bridge aboard the Ted Ashby


The bungy pod close to the south pier that they jump from underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge

The bungy pod close to the south pier that they jump from underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge


Returning to port aboard the Ted Ashby off Auckland

Returning to port aboard the Ted Ashby off Auckland

Not far to the west of Auckland is the 70 square miles of the Waitakere Regional Park with its visitor centre at Arakati with views of Manukau Harbour, Auckland's second harbour facing west connected to the Tasman Sea.

The Arataki Visitor's Centre in the Waitakere Regional Park

The Arataki Visitor's Centre in the Waitakere Regional Park


View across to the West Coast and Manukau Harbour from Arataki

View across to the West Coast and Manukau Harbour from Arataki


Me in a picture frame of the view of Manukau Harbour from Arataki

Me in a picture frame of the view of Manukau Harbour from Arataki

The Park was formed in 1940 to protect the remaining local NZ bush and allow what had already been lost to regenerate. This includes the Kauri Tree (which can live for 2000+ years), Rata Tree (which start as vines growing up other trees) and New Zealand's national emblem the Silver Fern. At Karekare there is a waterfall in a glade that was used for scenes in the Oscar winning film "The Piano".

Rata Tree near Piha in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Rata Tree near Piha in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park


Karekare Waterfall in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Karekare Waterfall in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park


Close up of the Karekare Waterfall and the beach used in the film "The Piano"

Close up of the Karekare Waterfall and the beach used in the film "The Piano"

Our final stop was Piha, famous for its iconic vista over the beach and Lion Rock. Beaches on New Zealand's west coast facing the Tasman Sea have iron rich black sand originating from volcanic dust while those on the east coast facing the Pacific are a more usual sand colour.

Me sat at the Lookout overlooking Piha Beach and Lion's Rock

Me sat at the Lookout overlooking Piha Beach and Lion's Rock

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls beaches bridges trees volcanos museums boat forts harbours city sunsets tour videos outdoor_pursuits americas_cup nz_north_island Comments (0)

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